After four turbulent months that included the loss of 71 jobs, the Field Museum is set to reopen July 17 following the coronavirus shutdown.
But don’t expect big crowds. The museum plans to cap daily attendance at one-fourth of capacity, officials said Thursday. Masks will be mandatory, and markers on the floor will help people with social distancing.
The museum will open to members only beginning July 17, then to the general public July 24.
“The Field Museum’s mission is to build a brighter future rich in nature and culture, and we’ve spent the past few months figuring out how we can continue to share the world with our visitors while keeping everyone safe,” Ray DeThorne, a museum spokesman, said in a statement. “People haven’t been able to get out and travel lately, but when you come to the museum, you can explore ancient Egypt, watch a traditional Chinese shadow puppet show, stand underneath the world’s largest dinosaur, and come face to face with the world’s best-preserved T. rex. These are the kinds of experiences you can’t get from home. And the museum is so big, visitors can escape the summer heat and explore while still social distancing.”
The museum is encouraging people to buy tickets online to reduce lines at the door. The museum will, at first, be open only five days a week, closing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Last month, the Field’s outgoing president, Richard W. Lariviere, announced in a letter to staff and supporters the elimination of 71 positions and the furloughing of a further 56 employees. At the time, Lariviere said that without the revenue from visitors and space rentals, among other things, the museum faced a $20 million shortfall for 2020.
The reopening comes as the Field gets set to welcome a new president later this year. Julian Siggers, director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, takes the helm at Field in September.